After a 45-year career that saw him advance from assistant to the production manager all the way to president and chief operating officer of PING, Doug Hawken has announced his retirement, effective January 31.
He will remain on the PING Board of Directors.
“I speak for the entire Solheim and PING families when I say how extremely grateful we are for the impact Doug has had on the company in the last 45 years,” said PING chairman and CEO John Solheim.
“His accomplishments are too long to list, but we all agree his leadership and contributions are evident company wide. He’s led countless efforts and initiatives to help build PING into the industry-leading company we are today,” added Solheim.
“He has a way of connecting with our employees at every level, mentoring and challenging them, while still being a friend. His strong relationships throughout the industry, including with our accounts, media and vendors, have earned him great respect in every facet of our business,” he said.
“His retirement signals a transition that’s been in the works for some time. We’ve been preparing the third generation of the Solheim family to assume executive management roles for the last few years. Under my guidance, that process now moves forward,” said Solheim.
“Our team is stronger and more collaborative than it’s ever been. I look forward to leading the next generation of executive management at PING,” he said.
Hawken’s career path included overseeing various departments within the club production and assembly areas, eventually earning the title of production manager.
Under his leadership, the company transitioned to lean manufacturing, which played a significant role in PING becoming the first and only U.S.-based golf equipment company to achieve ISO certification, a globally-recognized quality management system dependent on continuous improvement throughout an organization.
He was also instrumental in evolving the company’s supply chain management strategy at a time when the industry experienced significant challenges to sourcing and manufacturing processes.
In 1994, Hawken’s role was expanded to oversee the marketing efforts, leading to the development of an account visitation program that brought thousands of club fitters to PING headquarters for advanced education on PING’s product development and custom-fitting processes.
“When I first showed up at PING in 1971 after graduating from Arizona State University, I was like most 22-year-olds at the time, unsure of my future but needing a job,” said Hawken, a native of Rialto, Calif., who was appointed president and COO by the company’s board in 1999.
“I was blessed that Allan Solheim offered me a job. I’ll never forget what he wrote on my application: ‘This guy has potential.’ It turned into a 45-year journey that allowed me to work and share leadership responsibilities with Karsten and John Solheim, who empowered me to become more visible throughout the company and within the industry,” said Hawken.
“I’m grateful to them and their family for the opportunities they provided me and I’m honored to continue to serve on PING’s board of directors,” he added.
“We’re in the business of creating and sustaining meaningful jobs. We accomplish this by designing and manufacturing the best golf equipment in the world. It’s an innovative approach that I’m passionate about and one I’ll endorse over any other,” he said.
“I’m proud to be associated with a company that puts the well-being of its employees and their families above all else. I’ll miss the daily interaction and the challenges that come with leadership, but mostly I’ll miss the friendships I’ve enjoyed with the thousands of employees over the years” added Hawken.
“I now look forward to spending more time with my wife Susan, our children and grandchildren,” he said.